Marrakech for the foodies
Updated: Feb 12
So you're headed to Marrakech and you're ready to tick all the sites off your list, but what about your tastebuds? Well, you're going to the right place. Marrakech might well be famous for unending labyrinths of market stalls and ancient mosques, palaces and spectacular architecture that will make you feel like you've stumbled into another time, but from the moment you arrive in Marrakech you will be overwhelmed by the pungent smell of traditional spices and you will soon realize that food is one of the central elements of culture here.
Moroccan fusion and fine-dining delights.
Fusion is not a new theme in Morocco, with a long history of migration, the country is a melting pot of Persian, Mediterranean, French, West African and Berber cuisines. With a long known French influence, it is no surprise to find some quality French-Moroccan fusion in the fine-dining scene. If you have the budget, La_Grande_Table_Francaise is an incredible example, with a French chef inspired by the Marrakech street food scene and using brilliantly fresh farm-to-table ingredients to create truly inspirational meals. Le_Royal_Mansour is another fine example of French haute-cuisine in beautiful Marrakech; and Ling Ling at the Mandarin Oriental which has taken Chinese fine dining to a new level. You will also find Thai, Lebanese, African and Italian fusion restaurants in this city, and Nomad is a great example boasting a couple of these - a modern restaurant with Moroccan twists on many of your favorite international dishes and lots of vegetarian options as well you won't be disappointed. And if you want to skip the fusions and have a truly sumptuous and traditional Moroccan meal, you must go to AlFassia. The name literally means "the woman from Fes" and has been run by 2 sisters for the last 25 years. This is a place where trends and fads do not set foot, their focus is simply creating beautiful Moroccan cuisine and exquisite service.
Get your Sweet fix
Moroccan sweets and cookies might not look like much, but these gems are as delicious as any, rivalling even the best pastries of Europe. Honey, almond, sesame, cinnamon, caraway seeds and sometimes even saffron - these treats will have you coming back for more. Seek out the local bakery and see what fresh delights await - buy yourself an assortment and decide for yourself what is your favourite. Perhaps it will be Shebakia, a surprisingly delicate local favourite made from ground sesame, twisted like a pretzel and deep fried before being drizzled in honey; or maybe it will be Ma'amul, the simplest sweet treat made from dates and sugar is a delightful little ball of goodness. Whatever your favourite, you're bound to have a good time trying to decide!
Going deep for street food.
This is a must for any foodie, and a truly local way to experience Moroccan cuisine. Walking into the famous Jemaa el-Fna in the early evening, you will find the day time stalls giving way to a host of street food vendors preparing for the rush of dinner time. Many tourists often avoid street food based on health concerns, but if you eat where you see other locals and where you can see your food being prepared fresh in front of you, then your tastebuds are sure to reward you. You will find kebabs of all kinds (including pigeon!) and rich with distinctive Moroccan spices; fish chermoula, the flavoursome deep fried fish (usually sardines) which can be enjoyed as a snack or part of a larger meal; and even delicious marinated vegetables which can be thrown on the BBQ to round out your meal. Maakouda also make a tasty snack, a little like a spicy potato cake. You will also find stalls selling S'bara white bean soup and Barbosa, the famous spicy broth with snails and of course Harira soup is ubiquitous and different everywhere you eat it - a new taste sensation every time. And of course, all those sweet stalls just waiting for you when you're ready for desert.
Cooking classes with a local.
Perhaps one of the best souvenirs you can buy for yourself is the skills to create some fabulous Moroccan food once you return home. There are really a lot of choices here, and the one you select will depend on your budget of course, but make sure you learn how to cook a brilliant classic Tagine. While you might imagine you've eaten enough of these to last a lifetime in this great city - believe me you will be craving it again as soon as you leave.